Showing posts from 2009

Fascinating 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair Interview with Marc Dreier

60 Minutes ran a fascinating interview with Marc Dreier this week, which included significant discussion of the forces that led Dreier to commit fraud and the chain of events that led to the unraveling of his scheme. The 60 Minutes interview was done in conjunction with Vanity Fair , which published an article regarding the interview with Dreier in this week's issue. The sun-drenched apartment, perched high in a Midtown Manhattan building looking down on the famed restaurant Le Cirque, is as luxurious as one would expect for space that cost $10.4 million. Lined with floor-to-ceiling glass, the living room features low divans wrapped in rich golden fabric. On the vast outdoor deck, as big as many apartments, the views stretch north and east, all the way across Long Island Sound toward Connecticut. Yet even a casual visitor would notice that something is amiss. Dozens of bare hooks line the white walls; all the paintings are gone. Boxes of paperwork litter the floors. In the kitchen

5th Circuit Allows Waiver of Ban on Evidence from Plea Negotiations

The 5th Circuit has ruled that public policy considerations do not justify barring a prosecutor from eliciting a defendant's waiver of the ban on the admission of statements made during plea bargaining negotiations. The Court found permitting this waiver was a natural extension of the 1995 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Mezzanatto , 513 U.S. 196 (1995), enforcing a waiver with respect to impeachment evidence. United States v. Sylvester , 5th Cir., September 18, 2009: Now presented with a case-in-chief waiver, however, we can find no convincing reason for not extending Mezzanatto’s rationale to this case. Justice Thomas, writing for the Mezzanatto majority, set forth a framework for analyzing plea-statement waiver. He first discerned a “background presumption that legal rights generally, and evidentiary provisions specifically, are subject to waiver by voluntary agreement of the parties.” Thus, without affirmative indication that Congress intended to proscribe waiver of

8th Circuit Decision - Failure to Inform Defendant of Maximum Sentence Spoiled Plea

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a district court's failure to inform a defendant of the maximum sentence he faced when pleading guilty is not harmless error, even where the defendant was apprised of the lighter sentence the court ultimately imposed. According to the Court, harmlessness in this context turns on whether the defendant would have pleaded guilty had he been completely informed, not whether he actually received a sentence within the range of which he was informed. United States v. Gray , 8th Cir., September 21, 2009: The government’s argument fails, however, because the test for harmless error is whether the defendant's knowledge and comprehension of the omitted information would likely have affected his willingness to plead guilty. Gillen, 449 F.3d at 903. Thus, the question is not whether Gray was sentenced within the range of which the court did make him aware; rather, the question is, had Gray known of the full range to which he could be sentenced

Fugitive Attorney Pleads Guilty

An attorney who was the final defendant is a $194 million hedge fund fraud has pleaded guilty in connection with a scheme that defrauded some 250 investors. According to the Department of Justice : In December 2006, defendants Won Lee, John Kim, and his brother, Yung Bae Kim were charged in a thirty-five count Indictment for their participation in a massive investment fraud in the operation of various hedge funds under the umbrella of the KL Group, LLC , initially in California and later in Palm Beach County. According to the Indictment, documents filed with the court, and statements made during the plea hearings, the defendants used quarterly mailings and website postings to misrepresent to investors that the KL Financial Group was a hugely successful family of hedge funds. In fact, however, the KL funds lost millions of dollars, and, in Ponzi scheme fashion, used new investors’ monies to make payments owed to previous investors. From 2000 through 2005, KL received approximately $1

Breaking News! Colorado Terror Suspect Admits Ties to Al Qaeda, Plans to Plead Guilty

According to Fox News , sources at the Justice Department have confirmed that Najibullah Zazi, the man under investigation for alleged ties to a New York City subway terror plot, has admitted ties to Al Qaeda and is currently negotiating to plead guilty to terrorism charges. It is unclear what information Zazi will provide to the government as part of the agreement or whether he has information regarding other terrorist operations currently underway within the United States. According to Fox News: The source said 24-year-old Najibullah Zazi, who until now had protested that he had no connection to Al Qaeda, changed his story Friday. Zazi reportedly told officials that he had received explosives training and may plead guilty as part of a deal to cooperate with the government. Zazi had submitted to two eight-hour interrogations, Wednesday and Thursday, at the FBI offices in Denver, and he was called back for further questioning Friday. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force went throug

Former Rwandan Official Pleads Guilty to Complicity in Genocide

According to the Georgetown Security Law Brief , a former Rwandan government official pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of complicity in genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Machael Bagaragaza admitted to funding, training, and providing weapons to the Interahamwe, an extremist Hutu militia that killed thousands of ethnic Tutsi during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Jurist has the following report on the guilty plea. Prosecutors submitted an amended complaint with the plea agreement that withdrew genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide charges against the former director general of OCIR-Tea, the agency which oversees Rwanda's tea industry. A sentencing hearing is planned for November 2. Bagaragaza was transferred in May 2008 to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, after a Dutch court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to try his case. In August 2007, the ICTR revoked a previous order transferring Bagaragaza's case to a local court in the Ne

Physical Therapist Pleads Guilty in $18.3 Million Fraud

Jay Jha , a physical therapist in Michigan, pleaded guilty on August 26, 2009 to conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program of $18.3 million. According to the plea agreement, Jha and a co-conspirator created fictitious therapy files listing services that had not actually been performed. The fictitious services were then billed to Medicare through sham providers controlled by the conspirators.

Hacker Agrees to Plead Guilty in Two Massive Data Thefts

Albert Gonzalez, who is currently charged in New Jersey with stealing credit and debit card data from a record number of victims, has agreed to plead guilty to charges relating to two previous hacking cases in Massachusetts and New York. The Massachusetts case gained national attention several years ago when Gonzalez stole more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers from several major retailers, including the TJX Companies Inc. The deals in Massachusetts and New York do not affect a third case pending in New Jersey, where Gonzalez is alleged to have stolen data related to more than 130 million credit and debit cards. The New Jersey case is the largest credit and debit card breach in US history.

Ex-Stanford Group CFO Pleas Guilty in $7B Ponzi Scheme

James Davis, a former Stanford Group chief financial officer, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in a Houston federal court on August 27, 2009. The plea is the first arising from the alleged $7 billion investment scheme at the financial group. According to the Department of Justice, Davis has agreed to cooperate with their ongoing investigation in return for an eventual sentencing reduction. Davis was charged in June 2009 with mail fraud, conspiracy to obstruct an SEC investigation, and conspiracy to commit mail, wire, and securities fraud. According to sources, Davis admitted in his plea agreement that he and others defrauded investors who bought $7 billion in certificates of deposit administered by the Stanford International Bank Ltd. He also admitted to misappropriating many of those assets, including diverting $1.6 billion for personal loans.

Ex-CIA Spy's Son Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Charges

The Miami Herald is reporting that the son of an ex-CIA spy has agreed to testify against his father as part of a plea agreement that may prevent the son serving any prison time for taking money from Russian agents. Nathaniel Nicholson pleaded guilty this week to engaging in a conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Jim Nicholson was the highest-ranking CIA official ever convicted of espionage when he pleaded guilty in 1997 to a conspiracy charge that sent him to prison for more than 23 years. He had been accused of selling information to the Russians about the CIA agents he trained and passing along other secrets. Both Nicholsons were indicted in January on new charges of conspiracy, money laundering and acting as an agent of a foreign government. Jim Nicholson was accused of sending his son back to his Russian handlers from 2006 to 2008 to squeeze more money out of them. Under the plea agreement, the 25-year-old Nicholson ad

Davis Pleads Guilty in Stanford Bank Case

James Davis, former CFO of Stanford Bank, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and conspiracy in connection with the meltdown of the bank. Davis faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, though his sentence will likely be significantly impacted by his cooperation with the government in the case against Allen Stanford. Here is a portion of a story of the plea from the Houston Chronicle . On the day his one-time boss was hospitalized, former Stanford Financial Group executive James Davis pleaded guilty today to three fraud and conspiracy counts for his role in an alleged $7 billion fraud. R. Allen Stanford, set to appear in court on a different matter, did not make the trip to the Houston federal courthouse from a Conroe jail cell. U.S. District Judge David Hittner said Stanford was found to have an irregular heartbeat and extremely high blood pressure around 5:30 a.m. and was taken to a Conroe hospital for evaluation. Davis' plea agreement has been expected since his attorney sa

Interesting 7th Circuit Case Regarding 5K1.1 Motions

The Sentencing Law and Policy Blog points us to this interesting Seventh Circuit case - U.S. v. Knox (7 th Cir. July 20, 2009). The case contains the following statement, "We agree with Davis that, as a general matter, a district court may consider a defendant's cooperation with the government as a basis for a reduced sentence, even if the government has not made a section 5K1.1 motion." According to Professor Berman : In the immediate wake of Booker, federal prosecutors often contested and/or complained if a district judge sought to reduce a [sentence] based on a defendant's cooperation absent a government 5K motion. In the wake of Gall and Kimbrough , I do not believe federal prosecutors still resist the notion that a district court's sentencing authority extends this far. Nevertheless, the fact that the Seventh Circuit expressly declares in this new ruling that a "defendant’s cooperation with the government as a basis for a reduced sentence" eve

Mumbai Terrorist Admits Guilt

According to the NYT , Ajmal Kasab admitted in open court that he was a participant in the Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed more than 160 people. The sole surviving gunman of the deadly rampage in Mumbai unexpectedly confessed in court here on Monday, adding his voice, matter-of-fact even as he spoke of opening fire into crowds, to what may be the most well-documented terrorist attack anywhere. The gunman, Ajmal Kasab, 21, was the man in an infamous surveillance photograph, looking calm with a blue T-shirt and a machine gun. The photograph was one part of an extraordinary electronic record reviewed during the trial, which the judge ruled would go on. Other tapes showed his fellow gunmen shooting up luxury hotels. Recordings of intercepted phone calls provided a spooky, real-time narration between the handlers and the gunmen, who at times needed to be prodded into action and were stunned at the opulence of one hotel. “Everything is being recorded by the media,” one of the handlers t

Will "Nobody. . . Ever Plead Guilty Again" After Madoff?

The WSJ Law Blog has an interesting post entitled "Nobody . . . Is Ever Going to Plead Guilty Again," which asks whether anyone will plead guilty again after the 150 year sentence handed down to Madoff today. As you recall, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts, including fraud, money laundering, perjury, false filing with the SEC, and other crimes. What incentives remain for others in similar situations to plead guilty? It’s only been a few hours, but already people in the white-collar world are buzzing over 150 year the sentence imposed by Judge Chin. First, a couple notes on the sentence: Typically in white-collar cases, judges impose a sentence equivalent to the maximum statutory punishment for the most serious criminal count to which a defendant pleads guilty. In Madoff’s case, that would have been a charge of securities fraud, which carries a statutory maximum of 20 years. But Chin said he would take penalties for all 11 criminal charges and have them run conse

Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years for Ponzi Scheme

Here is a summary of the sentencing from CNN . Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York announced the sentence just moments after Madoff apologized to his victims. "I live in a tormented state for all the pain and suffering I created," Madoff said. "I left a legacy of shame. It is something I will live with for the rest of my life." Turning to face some of his victims, he addressed them directly: "Saying I'm sorry is not enough. I turn to face you. I know it will not help. I'm sorry." Madoff said he was not asking for forgiveness and not offering any excuses for his behavior. "How can you excuse betraying thousands of investors?" he asked. "How can you excuse deceiving hundreds of employees? How can you excuse lying to and deceiving your wife who still stands by you?" Victims urged a judge to hand down the maximum life sentence against Bernard Madoff, the mastermind of the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever.

Judge Orders Defendant to Write Book

Last week, Judge Ricardo Urbina, United States District Court Judge for the District of Columbia, sentenced a former senior pharmaceutical executive at Bristol-Myers to an unusual sentence. Dr. Andrew G. Bodnar had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the federal government about the company's efforts to resolve a patent dispute over the blood thinner Plavix. At sentencing, Judge Urbina sentenced Mr. Bodnar to two years probation, during which he must write a book about his experience connected with the case. He must also pay a $5,000 fine. Here is further information on the case from the NYT . Elkan Abramowitz, Dr. Bodnar’s lawyer, said he had never before heard of a case in which a judge sentenced a defendant to write a book. But this is not the first time Judge Urbina has demanded written penance. In 1998, he sentenced a prominent Washington lobbyist to write and distribute a monograph to 2,000 lobbyists at the defendant’s own expense. The lobbyist, James H. Lake, pl

9/11 Detainees May Be Permitted to Plead Guilty

The NYT reports that the Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that would allow detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial. The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom. The proposal, in a draft of legislation that would be submitted to Congress, has not been publicly disclosed. It was circulated to officials under restrictions requiring secrecy. People who have read or been briefed on it said it had been presented to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates by an administration task force on detention. . . . The proposal would ease what has come to be recognized as the government’s difficult task of prosecuting men who have confessed to te

Former Enron Executive Pleads Guilty to Avoid Third Trial

The WSJ Law Blog is reporting that former Enron Broadband Services CFO Kevin Howard pleaded guilty today to one count of falsifying books and records. The plea deal comes six years and two trials after he was first indicted. Howard's first trial ended in a hung jury. The second trial ended with a conviction that was later overturned because of the government's use of the honest-services statute. Under the agreement, Howard will serve a maximum of 12 months home confinement. (A short summary of the Enron Broadband trial can be found here ). The Houston Chronicle also wrote about the plea agreement. Howard first went to trial alongside four other ex-broadband executives in 2005 in a three-month case that ended with a handful of acquittals, no convictions and jurors hung on dozens of other counts — including all pending against him. Two other broadband executives — former co-CEO Kenneth Rice and former chief operating officer Kevin Hannon — each pleaded guilty to crimes in

Men Plead Guilty in Weapons Deal

According to the Miami Herald , two individuals pleaded guilty in Miami yesterday to fraud charges. The charges related to their supplying of prohibited Chinese munitions to the Afghan military. Two men have pleaded guilty in Miami to federal fraud charges involving the supply of prohibited Chinese ammunition to the Afghan military. David Packouz and Alexander Podrizki on Tuesday admitted involvement in a scheme by U.S. defense contractor AEY Inc. to conceal the Chinese origin of ammunition for Afghanistan. AEY had a $298 contract with the Pentagon to supply the ammunition, and authorities say they falsely claimed it came from Albania. Packouz was vice president of AEY and Podrizki was a company agent in Albania. They each face a maximum of five years in prison. Still awaiting trial are former AEY president Efraim Diveroli and business associate Ralph Merrill. They have pleaded not guilty.

Seven Plead Guilty to Supporting Iran Terrorist Group

According to the Miami Herald , seven people in California has pleaded guilty to providing material support to an Iraq-based terrorist organization. Each of the seven face up to twenty years in prison. According to prosecutors, the defendants raised funds for the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). According to the State Department, the militia was supported by Saddam Hussein and works against the Iranian government. The group was designated a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.

Al Qaeda Sleeper Agent Pleads Guilty to Terror Charges

According to FoxNews , Ali al-Marri, a man held since 2001 as an alleged Al Qaeda sleeper agent, has pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism. The plea was entered in United States District Court in Peoria, Illinois. According to the report, Marri pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. Marri, a legal U.S. resident, was declared an "enemy combatant" in late 2001 and held without charges for more than five years at a Navy brig in South Carolina. The designation of "enemy combatant" was later dropped when a grand jury in Illinois indicted him. Marri will be sentenced in July. The Washington Post had a story regarding Marri this morning in anticipation of his possible guilty plea. Prosecutors and lawyers for Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri are engaged in negotiations that could produce a guilty plea by the suspected al-Qaeda associate in a federal courtroom as early as today, according to sour

US Army Soldier Pleads Guilty to Desertion

Jurist reports that a US Army soldier, Spc . Cliff Cornell, who fled to Canada to avoid serving in the Iraq war has pleaded guilty to charges of desertion. Cornell received a one year prison sentence and an bad conduct discharge. Cornell spent four years in Canada, but was denied asylum by the Canadian government in February. Canadian advocacy group War Resisters Support Campaign decried Cornell's sentence, calling the Iraq War "illegal and immoral." Cornell had reportedly become actively involved with the group. Several other US soldiers have sought asylum in Canada. In 2005, US Army Pvt. Brandon Hughey , who fled to Canada after refusing a deployment order to Iraq and deserting his unit at Fort Hood, formally asked the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board for asylum. Hughey's application was denied, and he is currently waiting to find out whether he will be allowed to remain in Canada. Several others are also appealing denials of asylum.

Marc Dreier to Plead Guilty

According to the defense counsel for Marc Dreier, a prominent New York City attorney accused in a $700 million fraud, his client will plead guilty on May 11 to securities fraud and money laundering charges. The AP, courtesy of , had this regarding the deal. Shargel says Dreier wants to enter the plea to demonstrate his acceptance of responsibility and his profound remorse. Until December, Dreier had led a law firm with 250 attorneys and celebrity clients. He was arrested after hedge funds complained he was stealing from them. Prosecutors say the 58-year-old could face a maximum of 30 years to life in prison.

Guilty Plea in New York Pension Fund Investigation

According to the WSJ Law Blog , Barrett Wissman entered a plea of guilty this morning to charges of paying kickbacks in exchange for state pension fund investments. The guilty plea was part of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's ongoing investigation into how state officials sold access to billions of dollars held by New York's state pension fund in return for kickbacks and other payments. Earlier today Barrett Wissman, who managed Texas-based Hunt Financial Ventures Asset Management, which manages money for the Hunts, the prominent oil family, pleaded guilty to charges of paying kickbacks in exchange for state pension fund investments in HFV. Raymond B. Harding, a past Chair of the former New York State Liberal Party, was also criminally charged for being a “sham placement agent” for three pension fund investments when, allegedly, he was only being paid for doing political favors for state officials. Harding allegedly obtained over $800,000 in illegal fees on state pensi

Former Senator Ted Stevens Rejected Plea Offer is reporting today that former Senator Ted Stevens rejected a plea deal early in his public corruption case. According to, Stevens rejected the offer and made clear that he had no interest in pleading guilty regardless of the offer to serve no jail time. Defense lawyers and their clients routinely face this dilemma: Take a plea for leniency, or roll the dice with a jury. The Ted Stevens case was no different. Stevens was offered a deal -- sometime before his indictment in July -- to plea to one felony and stay out of prison. Stevens' lawyer, Williams & Connolly partner Brendan Sullivan Jr., said the deal was rejected, according to a transcript of a bench conference that had been sealed until now. Sullivan did not elaborate about the decision to reject the offer. "I'd like to make it clear on the record that there is no offer at this point," said Brenda Morris, principal deputy chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, who spo

The Resurrection Plea

According to news reports, a former member of a religious cult, Ria Ramkissoon, pleaded guilty to starving her one year old child to death with the condition that her plea will be withdrawn if the child is resurrected. Under the deal with prosecutors, Ramkissoon will also testify against four other members of the cult, formerly known as 1 Mind Ministries, who are also charged in the death. According to abcnews : [T]he cult members stopped feeding the boy when he refused to say "Amen" after a meal. After Javon died, Ramkissoon sat next to his decomposing body and prayed for his resurrection. Ramkissoon's attorney, Steven D. Silverman, said Ramkissoon believes the resurrection will occur. She agreed to plead guilty only after prosecutors said they would drop the charges if the child comes back to life, Silverman said. "This is something that she absolutely insisted upon, and this is indicative of the fact that she is still brainwashed, still a victim of this cult,"

Supreme Court Rules Regarding Broken Plea Bargains

In a vote of 7-2 in the case of Puckett v. United States , the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that where federal prosecutors violated a plea bargain with an accused, the violation must be preserved at the trial court level to avoid the application of Rule 52(b). James Puckett was indicted for bank robbery in July 2002. He later negotiated a plea agreement with the government in which he agreed to plead guilty in return for the government agreeing to a reduction in his guideline offense level for acceptance of responsibility and a sentence at the lowest end of the applicable guideline range. Prior to sentencing, however, Puckett assisted in a scheme to defraud the postal service. When sentencing took place, the government opposed any reductions in Puckett's offense level for acceptance of responsibility. The district court then determined that even if it could grant the reduction, it would not. At no time did Puckett's counsel object to the government's new position.

Breaking News! Madoff Pleads Guilty to Eleven Counts

Madoff has pleaded guilty to all eleven counts. Here is a description of the events by the New York Times . Standing before Judge Denny Chin in United States District Court in Manhattan, Mr. Madoff was asked, “How do you now plead to the information, guilty or not guilty?” “Guilty,” he responded. The hearing on Thursday marks the first time since he was arrested by federal agents on Dec. 11 that Mr. Madoff has spoken publicly about how he ran what was perhaps the largest fraud in Wall Street history, a global scheme that ensnared hedge funds, nonprofit groups and celebrities, and devastated the life savings of thousands of people. Dressed in a gray suit, Mr. Madoff, 70, stood up in a courtroom packed with journalists, lawyers and some of his victims and pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud,money laundering, perjury and theft — charges whose maximum sentences total 150 years. Mr. Madoff then answered questions about how he sustained a 20-year fraud whose collapse erased as much as $65

Madoff to Plead Guilty to Eleven Charges in Ponzi Scheme

Bloomberg has gathered some of the details regarding the plea agreement Madoff will enter on Thursday.  According to the reports, Madoff will plead guilty to eleven criminal charges related to a fraud that prosecutors state began in the 1980s.  By last November, Madoff told 4,800 investors their accounts held $64.8 billion, according to court papers filed in Manhattan federal court. Prosecutors will seek forfeiture from Madoff of as much as $170 billion. Madoff, free on $10 million bail, faces 150 years in prison. “There is no plea agreement,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Litt said at hearing today before U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. Madoff, originally charged with a sole count of securities fraud, will plead guilty to that charge and an additional 10 counts filed today in a so-called criminal information, defense attorney Ira Sorkin said. The new charges are investment adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings

Madoff Plea Deal May Be In The Works

According to MSNBC , prosecutors have filed a motion that indicates Bernard Madoff may be preparing to plead guilty to charges related to one of the largest frauds in history. The indication came in a brief filed with the court that stated Madoff is waiving indictment, a potential sign that a deal is in the works. NBC's Pete Williams, citing an unnamed law enforcement official, said Madoff may plead guilty next week. The official said under the terms of the deal, Madoff will serve prison time and be required to help the government put together a full accounting of what happened. The filing was the latest sign pointing toward a possible plea deal with Madoff, who has been confined to his Manhattan penthouse since his arrest in December. Madoff has never contested the allegations and recently surrendered millions of dollars in major assets, actions that typically precede plea deals. Investigators have spent the last three months trying to untangle Madoff's complicated financial o

Plea Likely from Iraq Terror Suspect

The Washington Post reports that a Dutch national accused of planting roadside bombs in Iraq is expected to plead guilty today. The case represents the first prosecution of an alleged Iraqi insurgent in a U.S. Courtroom. Wesam al-Delaema, 36, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on charges that include conspiring to murder U.S. citizens and possessing a destructive device during a crime of violence. . . . [Delaema] was arrested by Dutch authorities in May 2005 and extradited to the United States in early 2007. Authorities have alleged that Delaema traveled to Iraq in 2003 and was a member of the group Mujaheddin From Fallujah, which deployed roadside bombs. On a videotape seized from his Dutch home, Delaema and other alleged insurgents were shown making, planting and discussing explosives intended to harm U.S. troops operating near Fallujah, authorities have said. On the video, Delaema said in Arabic that "we have executed several operations, and most of them were s

Should Plea Bargains Be Available On-Line?

Doug Berman over at the Sentencing Law and Policy blog has an interesting post regarding a National Law Journal article about a federal judge who has defied the DOJ's wishes and ordered all plea agreements to be posted online. Here is a portion of the National Law Journal article. Chief Judge Federico Moreno of the Southern District of Florida, bucking the wishes of the U.S. Department of Justice, has ordered all plea agreements to be posted online. In an order issued on Jan. 22, Moreno stated that as of Feb. 20, all plea agreements "will be public documents, with full remote access available to all members of the public and the bar, unless the Court has entered an order in advance directing the sealing or otherwise restricting a plea agreement." Moreno's order rescinds a previous order of April 2007 taking all plea agreements offline and making them accessible for physical viewing only at the courthouse. The issue of whetherplea agreements should be publicly avail

South Dakota Post-Conviction DNA Testing - But What About Plea Bargains?

According to the Argus Leader , South Dakota may soon get post-conviction DNA testing. Some inmates in the state prison system could have DNA evidence tested to determine whether they were wrongly convicted if a bill in the Legislature becomes law. House Bill 1166, introduced Wednesday, has four Republican sponsors in the House and two Republicans and one Democrat in the Senate. The bill would let felony convicts petition for DNA testing if the evidence exists and if there were questions about identity in their prosecutions. The bill has the backing of the local chapter of the Innocence Project, a national group that has pushed to expand post-conviction DNA testing at the state and federal level. Evidence lockers across the nation contain evidence of rapes and murders that were committed before science enabled investigators to use DNA to identify perpetrators. DNA testing has enabled law enforcement agencies across the nation to solve old cases. But the tests also have helped those who

Today in Plea Bargaining History - The Andrew Fastow Guilty Plea

Five years ago today, Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty to participation in crimes that contributed to the collapse of Enron. In his plea, Fastow admitted to disguising Enron's deteriorating financial health and engaging in a scheme to defraud the company of millions of dollars for his own benefit. Fastow also entered into an agreement to surrender more than $23 million to the SEC to settle related civil charges. Fastow's plea agreement was the beginning of the end for the Enron conspirators. On January 22, 2004, Richard Causey, former Enron Chief Accounting Officer, was charged with being "a principal architect" of a scheme to mislead investors. On February 19, Jeff Skilling, former Enron CEO, was indicted on 35 counts of fraud, insider trading, and conspiracy. Finally, on July 18, Ken Lay, Enron founder and former CEO, was indicted on eleven counts of conspiracy, making misleading statements, wire fraud, bank fraud, and securities fraud. In early 2005, Causey pleaded gu

Remembering Judge Griffin B. Bell - Carter's Attorney General and Creator of the Special Matters Team at King & Spalding LLP

It is with great sadness that we learned today of the death of Griffin B. Bell, an individual aptly named by the New York Times as the “dean of Georgia lawyers.” Judge Bell’s influence in the law extends well beyond Georgia of course. In particular, his reputation of strong principles and independence led him to be a popular choice for internal investigations and an attorney who shaped this ever growing area of the law. As the New York Times noted today, his reputation was such that he established a Special Matters practice at King & Spalding to handle such assignments. It is as a member of the King & Spalding Special Matters Team that I was able to meet Judge Bell and, during my final year with the firm, even had the pleasure of having an office just down the hallway from the former Attorney General. I will remember most his Southern style and his gift for quickly boiling down complex issues to the core. He was always a provider of thoughtful guidance, and he will be missed. T

Number of Corporate Settlements with the DOJ Spikes

According to the Washington Post , the DOJ has reached more than a dozen business-related settlements since November. The climate for business settlements could grow more harsh when Obama appointees seize the reins at the Justice Department, corporate lawyers say. They point to statements by Attorney General-designate Eric H. Holder Jr., who told an audience last month that he would expand the focus of federal prosecutors into corporate suites. A review of 15 agreements involving corporations since early November suggests that much of the alleged misconduct dates back five years or more, provoking questions about why the cases took so long to mature and why resolutions are coming with only weeks left in President Bush's term. . . Justice Department officials said there is nothing unusual about end-of-year settlements. They defend their record in investigating and prosecuting corporate misdeeds. In recent weeks, they announced indictments against five Blackwater Worldwide securit